Monday, February 20, 2012

Desert Riding over President’s Day Week

The Three Rides

Old Ore Rd to Langford Hot Springs in the Big Bend National Park, the Lajitas Trails, and the Contrabando Trail System in the Big Bend State Park were done on successive days over this past Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

The bike was itching to go !

View from outside the Chisos Mountain Basin Lodge restaurant in the national park near sunset on Wednesday night. Had a delicious pasta and salad dinner here after setting camp in Lajitas.

The clouds were an omen for looming “weather”.

Thursday morning started as a cool day. All those layers would soon come off. Awaiting the start of the 32 mile Old Ore Road ride down to Langford Hot Springs.

Some of the hills were arduous and required an occasional rapid recovery moment (RRM).

Old Ore Road was truly a long, in the middle of nowhere country type of ride..but truly beautiful and known to be the must do ride in the national park.

Finally the path ends near the Rio Grande River.

And a nice warm dip is enjoyed by all.

After the ride the sky became rain laden.

And a beautiful double rainbow soon smiled upon the region. We stopped for a cold cut sandwich from the park’s gas station before exploring further. Also lucky the Subaru has spots for 3 bikes because we happened upon some riders who flagged us down; they were initially some hardy souls that thought it would be a keen idea not to arrange shuttle transportation and to try and ride from Hot Springs all the way back to the Dagger Flats Auto Road (near the start of the Old Ore Rd ride)---needless to say they weren’t about to make it.

The park does not just sport mountain bikers—oh no—it features bears too, not to mention cougars.

My Thursday adventures came to a close with a fantastic dinner at the Terlingua Ghost Town’s Starlight Theater Restaurant. The one pound sized “Diego” Burger was as good as I remember from several years ago.

My Thursday ride consisted of 32 miles down Old Ore Rd in 2 and a half hours or so of fast track with some nice climbing.

A good day indeed.

Hey…. who is that fat old grey dude ??? lol. Interesting red tree.

Subie plays the desert location of the “home office”. Uploading GPS track of the 1st ride to ridewithgps website.

Note it doesn’t matter where the home office is located, there will always be a diet coke or coke zero or diet dr pepper on hand. ha. I think I am allergic to water as late in the day on day 2 I had a bottle of water and had a momentary spell of dizziness Winking smile

Awaiting day 2 (Friday) ride of the Lajitas Trail System. It rained buckets and thundered and lightninged for a good while during the night but the 10 AM rides went on. And truth be told, the desert terrain dried quickly and nicely.

Checking out some old culture rock writing along the creek-side cliffs.

This local bike shop from Dallas area set up trail side not far from “Lajitas International”. Where else but the far flung desert area of the Big Bend region could one find a runway that caters to the ultra-wealthy. I bet it might see but just a handful of flights for an entire year.

A pretty girl on the Lajitas ride.

These next 7 photos are also from the flowing, awesome trails of Lajitas.

Think he was tired ??

My day 2 Friday Lajitas ride consisted of 15 fast, flowy sweet ribbons of desert single-track. Fast Furious and Fun.

The Maverick Ranch, Lajitas RV and Tent Camp on Friday afternoon. Oh yes rain would be in the offing for later in the night.

Lunch after Friday’s ride and shower was at India’s Café. She has wonderful breakfasts and plate lunches. The pulled pork bbq samwich was great. Had breakfast there Friday about 630 AM as well where I ran into a bunch of geophysicist types from Shell Oil exploring “rock”. Interesting thing is they were all from separate counties such as Portugal, Netherlands, Britain, etc. Speaking of showers—the Maverick Ranch RV camp was a great place to stay. The water was oh so HOT and refreshing.

This “plaza” is home to several Study Butte businesses, including India’s Café. Chili Pepper is up the road and is where we had dinner Friday night. I would not recommend the Chili Pepper; it was the only “bad” food we had the entire trip.

I like calling the area the far flung desert region of Texas. From the junction at Study Butte it is 15 miles to Camp Lajitas. Then add on an additional 40 miles to get to the HQ at the National Park and one can see the area is immense. Have a full tank of gas !! Also there is an outdoors outfitter/tour guide in the area that is named “Far Flung”.

The desert cacti get their colors from the mineral elements in the soil.

Taken outside camp Friday afternoon, it looks as if an illegal border crossing may be in progress. Crossing the Rio Grande outside of monitored, select locations has been illegal since around 2002.

Another shot of camp Friday late afternoon.

Friday mid-evening I got out the tripod for the 1st time and managed to focus on one star long enough to obtain a suggested shutter speed of 25 seconds. This is the result. Not too bad for a first star picture. Approximately 2 or 3 hours later a slow, steady rain would fall again.

Saturday’s rides were held on the Big Bend Ranch State Park Land. Once again a little old rain would not stop the rides from going on. And after a 2d subsequent night filled with rain, the desert would once again yield mostly dry, primo riding conditions.

One of the single track trails in the state park is called crystal dome. As evidenced above one can see why. But one needs to experience this first hand to fully enjoy the splendor of the glistening trail-side terrain.

A rest stop near the old Buena Suerte mine in the state park. I did not get pictures of riding after this point because we hopped on the Contrabando, which turned out to be an awesome, fantastic, fun filled piece of technical and exhilarating tail. I am sure a video will follow at some point (read—when I find time and the proper level of desire).

The story goes that the girls that man this rest stop on prior warm years wore bikinis to cheer on the riders. True to form, this girl did show that she had on a bikini top under that jacket and sweater. Sorry no photo evidence; you dear reader will just need to imagine and believe me. haha.

So Saturdays temp for the ride topped out in the mid to high 60’s and the rain was not to return Smile

My Saturday’s ride was around 22 miles and was my favorite ride of the 3 days that contained riding.

Saturday for lunch I wound up eating at the Study Butte grocery. A cold cut sandwich, spicy limone chili cashews and a sweet desert. Sat down in the "closed for late lunch" café to eat it. The above is a mechanical rattlesnake ride that the Austin Zoo brings down to the fest each year. This is on Saturday afternoon a few hours before the closing pasta dinner and live music. The rattle snake ran late into the evening and I could see its patterns shining through the tent-wall but I was much too tired to get up and look more or even bring the tripod down for a steady shot of the band. Spaghetti was good though !

Bicycle Sport Shop from Austin was one of several that was open for the riders to peruse.

Hoops is always a big after ride party tradition.

There were also a couple of mechanical butterflies.

The band “Funkadelic”—I think that was the name—played after pasta and salad was served and consumed. I listened to a handful of songs then it was hit the hay time. I wished I would have carried the tripod down to the dinner/music. Oh well.

Since I didn’t I just fooled with cam settings and got this colorful outcome:

So that’s it for this year’s mountain bike desert fest promoted by the great enthusiasts of Desert Sports of Terlingua.

An absolutely delightful time as usual and I just may have to step these Big Bend adventures up to a greater frequency than once every 3 years.

Full sized photos and a few additional ones are at: